Former Bosasa CEO turned state capture whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi on Tuesday night confirmed to The Citizen that there appears to be a concerted campaign of fake news, distraction, misinformation and distortion around him and the testimony he is giving at the state capture commission.
Among other things, a Twitter account has popped up pretending to be his, and has already picked up over 4,000 followers.
The initial tweets appear quite convincing but Agrizzi merely said “fake” when asked about it. His son Giancarlo confirmed to The Citizen that his father had no interest in Twitter and didn’t even know how to use the microblogging social media site.
So if you see this account in future, trust nothing about it.
The support from my countrymen has been overwhelming and it gives me hope and strength going forward. I thank you all
— Angelo Agrizzi (@AngeloAgrizzi) January 22, 2019
Agrizzi also confirmed that a list that has been circulating of supposed Bosasa bribe beneficiaries from earlier today, and which has apparently gone viral, is also complete fakery.
He confirmed, for one, that he had never met Black First Land First (BLF) president Andile Mngxitama, whose name appears on the list, and that Mngxitama was in any case never a beneficiary of untoward payments from Bosasa.
Mngxitama had already said in a statement on Tuesday that he had noticed his name on the list, which included the names of other individuals Agrizzi has already implicated in allegedly taking bribes from Bosasa.
Fake news is known for mixing facts with fiction in the hope that this will make it more believable.
The fake message included several other high-profile names, including the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu and Julius Malema, who have also not been named in relation to Bosasa.
Even more extraordinarily, the name of former president FW de Klerk also appeared.
When asked about those names, Agrizzi was equally dismissive, saying the misinformation campaign was aimed at discrediting his sworn testimony, and he encouraged the country to consider for themselves who might be sponsoring such efforts.
It is not the first message about alleged Bosasa-linked corruption to be criticised for fakery that has been doing the rounds since this weekend. A WhatsApp message over the weekend claimed a Sunday Times journalist was asked to write untruths about Dudu Myeni, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Nomvula Mokonyane.
That has now been comprehensively disproven, though Mokonyane herself seemed to believe it.